REBUILDING HOMES IN KALAY
In 2015, severe rains and floods ravaged many parts of Myanmar leading to massive destruction including the loss of homes for many families, as in the case of Kalay, in Chin state. The Salesian sisters responded to the call for help to rebuild 80 houses for homeless families. With the assistance of ACTS, the sisters requested funds from CHARIS to rebuild 80 houses in Kalay, as the amount that they had secured from another donor was insufficient.
CHARIS contributed and added to enough funds and construction of the houses proceeded. Most of the houses have been built but the annual rainy season has delayed the completion of some houses that was to be completed when better weather permits.
Sr Jessica recently provided an update on the sisters’ visit to the families in the newly completed homes which is summarized below.
Srs Agatha and Nicolas visited Khumnoi Village in Kalay from 18-20 July. With the help of Fr Camilus, who lent his car to the sisters, they were able to make their visit to that remote area. When the sisters arrived at Khumnoi Village they were welcomed by three headmen from the council of the village. This was because the parish priest, Fr Alphonse Ngul Kho Mang, was unable to make that meeting. Srs Agatha and Nicolas stayed in the convent of the Little Way of St. Teresa of Jesus. As Fr Alphonse had informed the families in advance about the sisters’ visit, the families extended a warm welcome to them. They shared how happy they were with their new homes that were well built and sturdy. The families are now properly housed and sheltered compared to after the floods when they had no roof over the heads and were exposed to the elements, putting particularly the young and elderly at greater risk. They are extremely grateful to all the parties who have helped them.
While many families are now properly housed, the struggles in their lives to earn a living continue. Many of the families were relocated from the mountains where the men folk undertake farming, tree-cutting and carpentry. The women folk would typically do some farming on nearby plots of land and look after the children at home. Being new to the area, the families have to search for land nearby to plant rice and vegetables. Many families plant some local indigenous greens and corn and raise pigs or chickens in their small compound. The men folk have been helping in carpentry work such as building of houses for which they receive wages. As different groups were involved in house building, coordination was difficult which resulted in wood being cut differently from measurements. With the available wood from tree trunks, the men went on to make benches for sitting and studying.
During the home visits, Sr Nicolas who is from Chin state, could converse easily with her fellow Chin members. Sr Angela who joined in the visits later is also from Chin state and her participation helped with the communication.
Another challenge faced by the families is medical attention. The Little Way Sisters have asked for help to acquire some medicines like Paracetamol, medicine for cold and cough and ointment for itchiness and wounds.
So far 55 houses have been built and another 15 houses will be completed after the rainy season is over. Eventually 70 houses would have been built housing a family each. 10 families have decided to return to the mountains instead of staying in Khumnoi.
The families who have new homes expressed their gratitude to the donors, MISSIO of Austria and CHARIS Singapore, as they have never dreamt to have such good houses in their lives. They promised to pray for all who made the project possible and asked for prayers in return for them to be able to start their lives anew and find employment in that area.
By Gabriel Ong
ACTS Myanmar Mission